Thursday, July 18, 2013

LOVE, Racism, And Media Manipulation

I'm not sure where to start really, but I will say that the situation is not as hopeless as it seems. Let me say a few things about Trayvon Martin, I hope to offer a perspective that few others have. T Thorn Coyle in her article, Confronting Racism is Spiritual Work, makes a great argument for considering this incident from a spiritual perspective. Her argument is not that we should turn this over to the Divine in hopes of a solution from on high, but rather we should solve the problem of racism as a matter of respect for the Creator. God Herself is watching to see how we handle this and many others matters on this planet. You see the way we treat creation is a reflection of our spiritual values. The reason so many people in modern society have disdain for the institutions of faith is that so many of them have violated the position of trust with which they have been vested. When people of Good Faith, regardless of tradition, begin to work together for the good of all, there will be no problem that cannot be healed by them. 

Let me get back to the Trayvon Martin tragedy for a moment, why is this important? On one level it matters because of the subtext of race and suspicion in America, for instance many Americans of European Heritage (I refuse to use "white" as it is an artifice)  have just learned about "the talk". As a punk rock son of of a baby boomer, I was given a similar talk in my teen years, although mine was a lot more about my choices and how they would be perceived rather than about how I would be perceived because of my skin color. The more disturbing aspect of this story, in my opinion, is the way the media chose to manipulate all of us with this tragedy. One of the main reasons it made the national headlines was because it involved racial tension, and nothing distracts people from the facts more than emotion. Reread that sentence. Yes I really believe that the national media in this country emotionally manipulates all of us away from the truth and exploits the weak spots in our national character. We as a nation keeping avoiding "the talk" about racial justice, inequality, and the nature of love.

Love? Yes, that thorny four letter word that Visionaries like Jesus, John Lennon, Mother Jones, and Ira Sendler use so eloquently. The reason that I bring up love is that I believe it is the only thing that will cure this illness. I'm talking about love as a real world skill that must be practiced in order to realize its full expression. If one does not practice what Erich Fromm calls "an act of will", one loses a sense of connectivity to others and fails to find fulfillment. The most successful way to develop trust and strengthen ties with others is communication. Only love can open one up to have the soul searching conversation this illness demands. It must start with people of European descent. We must give up the vestiges of privilege that the artifice of "whiteness" conveys. We must love our fellow humans enough to stop the injustices committed by the cultural imperialism of ages long past. We must accept that we can affect change only within ourselves and that there are many voices in this conversation. We must take responsibility for our wrongs, either by listening or educating. We must be willing to stand with our brothers and sisters against injustice. Love will guide us all towards these goals. Love can no longer be a platitude we give lip service in the houses of the holy, it must become a rally point for action.

This is why the media will continue to highlight these cases and ignore gun violence in general. When speaking of teen deaths alone the numbers are far too high, but when you start looking at all gun related deaths it is simply tragic. Why is it that every media outlet in the country was all over the Martin/Zimmerman case but only the Huffington Post  has carried the story of Temar Boggs on a national level? Because of our susceptibility. Yes, that's right, as long as we continue to let the media manipulate us through our fears, prejudices, and  lack of compassion, they will continue to do so.I have seen internet memes that ask what if Mr. Zimmerman offered Mr. Martin a ride home that night, would the outcome have been different? I don't know, but if Mr. Zimmerman had just once broke down and cried over the fact that he killed another human being, regardless of race and age, maybe we would be having a very different conversation.

I believe, and this only my opinion, that the utter lack of compassion shown by Mr. Zimmerman is why so many can not accept the verdict. The jury did what they believed to be right under Florida law, which is the real miscarriage of justice. The Stand Your Ground Law (SYGL) is not about love or compassion. It is sad that our society has gotten to a place where we are legally sanctioning murder, and members of our nation applaud it. This is on American soil and has nothing to do with drones. We as a society have begun to say that life is so insignificant that if you feel sufficiently threatened by someone you can kill them.That was Marissa Alexanders mistake, she did not kill her husband, so the state of Florida punished her for respecting life. Yes it is that simple, and no I am not being dramatic. The facts are there.

Back to love. Here we are in a nation that claims to build its laws and ethics on a Christian foundation. I am not strictly christian nor am I anti christian, many great things, such as the abolitionist movement, for example, were accomplished by christians throughout time, as were horrors. So I maintain a fairly neutral stance on christianity. That being said, one of the basic tenets of the christian faith is respect for life, right there in Exodus 20:13 "Thou shall not Kill". Then Jesus commanded his followers to love one another as they loved themselves. So why do we as a nation have laws sanctioning murder? Fear of love. Love erases boundaries, class distinctions, and bonds us together as humans. With love we get to actually appreciate one another as individuals rather than a race, an age, a social class, or any division our minds can devise. There is no longer a need for hierarchy based on artifice. Will some lose their privilege? I guess, if you call coercion reinforced by violence a privilege. That is what racism is, the erroneous belief that by accident of birth one has the right to devalue another life and to build institutions of power to reinforce this so called right.

In the spirit of George Carlin, I will call this what it is: HORSE SHIT. Most of the time I do not condone vulgarity when trying to make a reasoned argument, especially about love, but sometimes the truth can not be expressed in any other way.When we are brave enough to love in a manner that allows us to be vulnerable, to be empathetic, open to other perspectives, perhaps we will heal not only our wounds but others wounds as well. When we can honestly in perfect love and perfect trust enter into each others houses, with a willingness to help and to learn, then we will grow the flower of love. Goddess bless you all.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Opening the Gates of Air

New Moon Air Working  

At the last new moon, I began my series of elemental workings by performing a short Air ritual. This ritual was designed simply as a beginning, a gate opener if you will. I won't go into all the details  as they are unnecessary for understanding my undertaking. Suffice to say that a triple flame was involved which opened a rainbow gate, and the flashing of said flame aided in imprinting my sigil. Later that night I was awakened by a dream wherein I was shown all my faults and how to work on them, deep shadow magick. So the work begins. A series of Hypnagogic dreams follows over the next few days. One involves going down into Kiva and being told by the Elders to use my gifts more wisely to be a Spirit Guide. In one dream Grandmother Root tells me that I belong to her and as one of hers she will teach me the plant ways through the spirit.

The strangest dream came last night, one day before my next working. Thoth, Egyptian God of Scribes and Magick, and beloved of Crowley (this is important for reasons that I will explain shortly) appears to me in a desert in the East. He shows me my natal chart, and begins to explain that the preponderance of my planets being in Gemini, my birth sign, makes me naturally inclined to the magickal arts. Thoth then goes goes on to explain that my birth-date, May 29th, is the Day of Quicksilver, which further reinforces this current. He admonishes me to stop denying myself and urges me to drink from a fountain that I had not previously noticed. After slaking my now overwhelming thirst I see a tapestry hanging between two palms, Thoth urges me to approach and enter. The tapestry has a symbol on it which I now know is the symbol of Shamash, the Sumerian Sun God. This where the Crowley connection becomes important. I go behind the veil where I meet the High Priestess, seated upon a throne that resembles a winged lion. She tells me that to unlock the portal for the next level of my work I must begin performing Resh. This startles me a little, as I am not now nor have ever been an aspirant to the OTO. Like most pagans and magickians of the twentieth century, I have read Crowley's works, probably more than most who have not joined the Temple, but I remain firmly secure in my solitary practice. In my dream I ask why  a God and Goddess of the Moon would be leading me to solar adoration. The answer was that they knew I would trust these forms. Upon hearing this I awoke. Unable to return to sleep immediately I decide to check my Facebook news feed, where I found this article by T. Thorn Coyle.  I was floored.

Now I am doing Resh, and preparing for my next working Tuesday night on the first quarter moon. I am excited and nervous about what the future holds, but I began this work to gain a deeper insight, and so I shall see it through to the end. I do not know what the sign of my grade is, nor do I have a superior that has taught me any adoration, but I can meditate and I can assume god forms. Where this is leading, I am not sure, but I have confidence in my endeavours. As always I will keep you informed as to my progress. Keep up the Great Work. Blessed Be!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Death Be Not Proud

In the article, Death and Dignity – A Case of Individualized Decision Making, by Dr. Timothy E. Quill, the author asserts that the issues surrounding physician assisted suicide are complicated and should be considered in the context of giving terminally ill patients the most dignity possible during the final months of their lives so that they may die with the least amount of suffering possible.

Currently the laws of all states except Oregon forbid physician assisted suicide, or euthanasia, as it is technically known. The moral and ethical considerations of this topic, are very complex and highly personal, but should be addressed by society as a whole. Many physicians secretly assist their terminal patients with their requests for barbiturates and pain killers to ease the terror and pain of dying. The Hemlock Society argues for the legalization of euthanasia to free it from the stigmatization that secrecy lends. Many terminal patients who choose this route face death alone, or with ill equipped family members. Doctors are faced with many difficult decisions when they choose to help either directly or indirectly, the loss of medical licenses, expulsion from their profession, and even criminal charges are chief amongst them. All of these aspects of euthanasia also bring to the forefront the essential question; do we as individual deserve to decide how and when we die, and what does the answer to that question say about our society?

Euthanasia is very difficult subject to have hard and clear opinions about, most people believe in compassion and ease of suffering, but how does one define dignity or justify suicide? In our current legal environment, many people are suffering needlessly and alone through death, when they could be tenderly cared for and treated with dignity. In the following statement, “Suffering can be lessened to some extent, but in no way eliminated or made benign, by the careful intervention of a competent, caring physician, given current social constraints.” the author reveals his belief that terminally ill patients do indeed deserve a dignified death. Quill goes on to say, “Prolonged dying can occasionally be peaceful, but more often the role of the physician and the family is limited to lessening but not eliminating severe suffering.” Here I believe that he arguing for the use of barbiturates and pain killers administered in a compassionate way to lessen the pain and terror of death. This article also supports the idea that in the current atmosphere of hostile jurisprudence many people are cut off from their family and friends and left to make these hard decisions alone, this is clearly evidenced in the following passage:

“I wonder whether Diane struggled in that last hour, and whether the Hemlock Society’s way of death by suicide is the most benign. I wonder why Diane, who gave so much to so many of us, had to be alone for the last hour of her life.”

The conclusion seems to be that such a death, while self directed may be less than fully dignified.

I for one fully support the right of terminal patients to choose euthanasia, as a viable alternative to prolonged suffering. If our society can learn to face death honestly and without fear, perhaps we will begin to value life as more precious gift. Perhaps a death free from terror and pain could lead us to consider the deeper questions death brings. Questions such as, what is dignity, and who deserves it, why do we fear the inevitable and what is really on the other side, if anything at all. When we begin to treat the dying with dignity and value the importance of lessening suffering for terminally ill patients, then and perhaps only then we will begin to treat the living with dignity and value the lessening of suffering for all individuals. As novel as it may seem I honestly believe that we can have a society based on compassion and that dignity for the dying can lead us there.

Society must confront these difficult decisions and codify them into law. Ignoring this subject will lead to more secret death, more individuals needlessly suffering alone. Dignity is something we all deserve in life and in death, whether by natural causes or assisted in physician sanctioned fully legal dying centers. The time has come for humanity to grow up and fearlessly face that fate that awaits us all. I hope that others will join me and Dr. Quill in support of compassionate euthanasia.